October 17, 2009

Reflections of a Former Gator

We are in Gainesville, FL for homecoming. It has been 18 years since I've been back. I attended UF for two years before I transferred to a smaller school. I didn't do poorly at UF, I did fine, but I didn't excel either. Some folks can learn wherever they are... they can fit and do fine. I needed more one on one... or rather one on 50 as opposed to one on 900.

Needless to say, I've done a lot of reflecting on it this last week. How would I feel coming back? Would I remember the two years fondly? Would I wish I had stayed?

And the answer is... although I have some good memories, I don't regret for one minute leaving and in fact, I think it was the single best thing I did in my life. My transferring to a smaller school... truly changed my life.

I don't keep in touch with one person I went to school with at UF. I had roommates, I was active, I had friends. Yet not one person was someone I felt that I needed to keep in my life. Whereas, when I transferred, I met VW and my girlfriend married to the Marine, neither of which I can imagine not being in my life.

Studying until 2AM with others in your class will forge some very strong friendships. I never made 'class friends' at UF, only friends from the dorm or another social group I hung out with. At the smaller school, my friends were formed with those within my major taking classes I was taking. We had... common miseries, if you will.

My professors at the small school took me in and had me attend meetings with them within their fields. I met executives at corporations as my professors went to dinners and dragged us along.

If I had not transferred, I'd never have gotten my job at Company X, which is a Fortune 50 company, making top dollar, and making more lifelong friends... a route that had me meeting my husband and creating the path to where I am now.

My only regret. I have one. And it is not something I knew to change. I wish I'd had better guidance counselors in high school. I wish someone had spoken to me about finding a college that fit me. I wish I'd had... guidance. My Mom at that time had not finished college and TGOO went to the Naval Academy. My folks, through absolutely NO FAULT of theirs, were not exactly knowledgeable about the selection of higher learning.

Honestly, I think my generation, or perhaps the half generation behind me, was probably one of the first generations where... kids just expected to graduate from high school and then go on to college. Mass quantities of girls and boys going off to college and the girls? The girls could actually be anything they wanted to be... anything.

And a quick aside note about my Mom... my Mom ended up graduating from U Mich, one of the finest State Universities in higher learning, and forged herself a very successful career after age 45. You talk about an inspiration. I know at least one of my female readers is embarking on some serious life changes and contemplating going back to school and having a career change and to that I say: Just Do It.

My Mom is probably why I'm not afraid to think about what I want to do next. Do I want to go back to college when my kids are grown and find a different profession? What do I want to do next? I don't feel... confined with what I am doing now. I definitely don't feel defined.

Anyway, I chose the colleges to apply to based on who I 'heard' had the best engineering school and never took into account whether it would be the right choice for me. I eliminated Auburn from my choice as I thought my grandfather might stroke, he being such a huge Alabama fan.

I'm not kidding. That's why I didn't go to Auburn.

So looking back, I wish I'd had guidance counselors give me advice. I'd maybe have looked at smaller institutions and honestly, I might have become a civil engineer, a profession I honestly think I would have been happy with.

But given that, I think that in the end, it worked out all fantastically well. So in reality, I'd change nothing.

We're having an absolutely wonderful time here at UF. For those wondering why we are here... my husband received his doctorates from UF. My boys are just now taking an interest in football, my eldest thinking of colleges, so we're going to start coming to more games and we'll be looking at colleges for him soon.

It's on the horizon.

My children will not go to UF. None of them have any desire... they all state it is too big. Besides, Mr. T has decided he's a Georgia Tech man, or as Bones likes to say, "He's going to that Bumble Bee school." There is still much time, and minds can be changed, but we're starting to look now.

We definitely don't want to end up thinking of colleges only to realize too late, that bus left already.

And on that note: GO GATORS!!! They need to beat the Pig People.

I'll be sitting in the North Endzone, wearing a blue Gator shirt and white Gator hat... oh wait, I'll be blending.

Posted by Boudicca at October 17, 2009 09:26 AM

Yellow Jackets ? Horrors (go Heels!) big toothy grin.
Good for you, thinking ahead - most moms get to their first kid's senior year of high school before they start thinking about what is next for the kid. But you are looking to what is next for you too! Wow.

Posted by: patti at October 17, 2009 10:48 AM

... what a nail-biter of a game!.....

Posted by: Eric at October 17, 2009 09:02 PM

Holy crap, I nearly had a stroke during that game. Good Lord.

Posted by: Bou at October 17, 2009 10:21 PM

Small schools are best for undergraduate work, I think.

Posted by: PeggyU at October 18, 2009 12:51 AM

Peggy- I think you're right. My husband did a year here and transferred to a different school. Not a good fit for undergrad. He came back for his doctoral work though and it was perfect. UF is tough to get into now. He and his classmates joke they'd never get in now.

Posted by: bou at October 18, 2009 09:30 AM

Bou - I told you my experience when going from a junior college to a prestigious university. I got a much better education at the junior college than the prestigious university and wound up dropping out. It all worked out well since I wound up being a systems programmer which was a really fun job (except for my clueless dipshit manager)

My high school guidance counselors expected almost everyone to go to college and the high school curriculum was geared to that. An example: two hour finals using the infamous blue books.

I am on the leading edge of the boomers (born 1946) but my high school had college expectations even before the boomers. My sister (4 years older) and her classmates were expected to attend college as well. I doubt that my high school is the same now. Pity. At the time I attended it was one of the best in the state. There was a lot of discipline and a dress code. No more.

Posted by: Denny at October 19, 2009 01:09 PM

My husband and I attended a small college. My upper division math classes had 10 people, max, but most of them had between 3 and 5 students. The smallest one I took had just two, counting me.

Posted by: PeggyU at October 19, 2009 03:15 PM

I am so glad, and proud, that I went to small school Jacksonville University (BS Economics).
It prepared me well for MS at University of Tennessee, which was huge.

Posted by: Mockingbird at October 19, 2009 03:26 PM

We had guidance counselors in high school?

Posted by: Toluca Nole at October 19, 2009 03:54 PM